This is an archive of notes taken during the livestream. The content starts at the bottom and goes up, and any typos or mistakes are from trying to document the set as it happened! Enjoy.
"I have a strange feeling we're all gonna be together again, one day." — Prince gets the last word.
Quest brings us home with a beautiful clip of Prince explaining the passion that underlies his work, as behind him rises the haunting closing chords from the coda of Purple Rain. Prince talks about his relationship to his fans: "I'm the painter, and y'all's the paintees."
Prince in rehearsal, coaching an entire group of non-musicians through a jam exemplifies how he used his talent and his musical gift to teach the world. Now we hear Prince talking to Electrifying Mojo in 1986, about the meaning of Uptown and his creative process.
We go back to an early-80s jam where Prince is trying to convince non-musicians in his entourage to jam along with him, including Jamie Shoop on drums and Vanity (Denise Matthews) on keys. Interestingly, he refers to Vanity as "Denise" here, not her stage name.
The extraordinary part of this "Testify" jam, is that despite being an absurd riff on the televangelists of the 80s, the entire thing takes place over the drum loop to "1999".
Just like Prince would never let a jam end without bringing the back in to kick your ass one more time, Questlove is still going!
The kind of groove that only exists in rehearsal, we hear Prince with Bobby Z (joining on vocals!) riffing as televangelists, talking about their belief in such worldly concerns as tuna sandwiches. Silly as the song is, the piano and drum part just won't quit.
Show love to the Food Hub here and love to Quest and Anil as well!
We're winding down, and a huge thank you to Questlove for 4 straight days of love and funk. And of course iammisstlc for heroic work here in documenting all these songs.
And now Prince is on drums. The man has a BATTERY in his back. The Neverending Story.
This version of "America" just won't quit — Brown Mark is doing the most damage with his bass, but the entire Revolution is just like a machine.
Now we're back to another version of "America", with the entire Revolution going full-tilt into a song they have still never tired of jamming on.
Now we hear Prince riffing on "Can't Stand It" by James Brown, with Wendy & Lisa adding the hook from James' "Too Funky In Here" on top. Quest explains how this is Prince circa 1984 learning how to lead a band with all the dynamics and detail of James's best bands.
Quest explains that after an extremely long version of "Baby I'm A Star", the band launched into a 26 minute version of "America" where Prince informs the crowd that they could go home if they want while he's going to continue to jam regardless.
Quest asks Wendy if they were often hit with overage charges given Prince's penchant for jamming open-endedly, and Wendy replies that she "thinks" it was a problem.
We're well past 20 minutes into "Baby I'm A Star", and now we're getting a strong dose of "Body Heat" — part of Prince's longstanding love for James Brown's catalog circa the mid-70s when Prince was in late high school.
Now Prince brings it way down, we get a thumping bass groove and a riff on "Murph Drag".
Quest brings us through the slowed down sleaziness and calls upon Jerome Benton.
And now we get sleazy — the Revolution breaks the groove down at half tempo, turning into an old-fashioned soul revue.
Prince is giving the band a workout, calling out hits dozens at a time. 25! Gimme 10! Stop on the 1! Gimme one hundred and twelve! (Psych!) And then back into this relentless groove.
This version of "Baby I'm A Star" includes the entire expanded Revolution and evolves into a straight up party.
Now a triumphant conclusion: "Baby I'm A Star"! The entire expanded Revolution is here, like an unstoppable force relentlessly moving the beat forward.
Sheesh. Almost 45 straight minutes of intense JAMMING.
And then to a song the Revolution could jam on for a legendarily long time: "America". We pick up the song in the vamp section, as it leads into a series of increasingly elaborate solos and full-band riffs.
A fan-favorite outtake, "Drawers Burnin'" makes a surprise appearance! It shows Prince having fun at a one-off show, riffing on the absurdities of his newfound superstardom in 1985.
We're about 15 minutes into the full 30 minutes of this version of "I Would Die 4 U", and we've discovered 2 alternate takes of this wildly extended version, complete with different simultaneous solos. The Prince nerds in the house are now debating the provenance of these versions while everyone else just dances.
[Sidenote from Miss TLC: Anil is busy dancing and may or may not be back for further updates. Lol.]
In addition to the full Revolution, we have Sheila E. on percussion and her saxophonist Eddie M. all over the track.
We move into one of the most beloved extended tracks of Prince's entire catalog: The touring version of the Revolution, at the peak of the Purple Rain tour, recording "I Would Die 4 U" for a full thirty minutes.
Everyone's jaw is dropping over Mark Brown's relentless bass on this everlasting groove on "Head".
And now, "Head". This is grown folks music, friends. The Revolution is unstoppable on this beat.
Onto "Head", another live rendition that allowed Brownmark to "show off".
We're in an incredible extended jam on the coda to "anotherloverholenyohead", featuring Mark Brown going off on the bass in a way we've seldom gotten to hear.
Atlanta Bliss (Matthew Blistan) worked with Prince from 1986-1991. Eric Leeds worked with Prince on and off from 1984-2003. Eric's brother Alan was Prince's tour manager until 1989 and then became President of Prince's Paisley Park Records.
We're into "Anotherloverholenyohead" with both Wendy & LIsa commenting on the (then-cutting-edge) Roland guitar synth used to open the song — and how it was a hulking beast of a machine. These days, you could do a pretty passing version of the sound on an iPhone.
Sticking with the Parade theme, Quest takes us into "Anotherloverholenyohead".
And now, they bring the intensity down a little bit and add in the horns to James Brown's classic "Ain't It Funky"!
The Revolution seamlessly moves from the main riff on "♥️ or $" into an extended instrumental section, with Eric Leeds' sax leading the charge.
Deep into this rehearsal of "D.M.S.R.", the band is clearly getting punchy, but having a blast grooving along. Quest finally cuts over to "❤️ or $", a beautiful b-side from the Parade era.
Funny sidenote: Wendy Melvoin admitting that she counted along to Prince's extensive cues at home while the live Purple Rain tour clips played as if she was still gonna get docked. Lol.
And after another blood-curdling scream, we're on to a rehearsal of "D.M.S.R." that involves Prince goofing on everything from Kool & the Gang to hamburgers and hotdogs.
Prince is having an extended conversation with the audience on this Purple Rain tour show, while in the chat, the members of the Revolution reveal what it was like to get such extreme cues onstage — leading to Lisa Coleman letting out a blood-curdling scream onstage!
Prince's solo piano evolves into an absolutely scorching version of "Irresistible Bitch", called out with no changes as a surprise — and the Revolution picks it up! From there, Prince starts going straight into "Possessed", again with no warning. Prince is throwing everything he can at his band as they move seamlessly through high-tempo hits.
Quest takes us to a March 1985 show in Worcester, MA, where Prince is calling out a poor review onstage, using it justify an ad-libbed piano jam that he's added to the set.
Quest is back to a story about the Purple Rain tour, that it tended to be uncharacteristically consistent between shows. But Q speculates that Prince had read a negative review of a Purple Rain show, and decided to go off-plan and jam on a completely unexpected half-hour set of solo songs in the middle of the concert.
During intermission, we hear an incredible live version of "Joy In Repetition". This version was recorded on April 10, 2002 at The World, here in NYC. I stood 5 feet from Prince as he shredded our faces off with one of his best recorded guitar solos ever.
A brief intermission to handle technical difficulties — Quest is making sure to get everything just right, as Lisa Coleman has joined the Instagram comments, meaning almost the entire Revolution has reunited in the comments of Questlove's set.
Now we bring things way down with a plaintive solo piano playing the unmistakeable start to "Raspberry Beret", which Prince introduces as "this is a new song"!
After this concert on June 7, 1984, a private birthday party was held for Prince at a sculptor’s studio in Minneapolis. The party included purple decor and a wedding cake with purple music notes and a single of When Doves Cry instead of a bride and groom.
Wendy says she has.
Quest now asks Wendy and Bobby if they've ever heard the original studio version of "When Doves Cry" before the bassline was removed.
And now something really special: The first live performance of "When Doves Cry". Prince uncharacteristically slips up on the very first lyrics of the song, but plays it off as the crowd not singing along, and starts over again. This show took place on Prince's 26th birthday: June 7, 1984. This moment was between the ascendance of When Doves Cry to the top of the charts the month before, and the debut of the Purple Rain album and movie, before both became smash hits the following month.
Later on in his career, Prince usually interpolated "Kiss" into the 'you and I engaged in a KISS' line whenever he'd perform WDC.
Onto "When Doves Cry", Prince's first #1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100.
A brief pause, and we're on to the unmistakeable drumbeat behind "Let's Go Crazy", as Prince goofs around with The Revolution in rehearsal.
"Computer Blue" is another classic that you *might* be lucky enough to see/hear if you attend any upcoming Revolution shows. Appearing in Miss TLC's favorite Purple Rain movie scene, the song showcases the close collaborative relationship Prince had with Wendy - in the movie and in real life.
The most musically ambitious track of 1984's titanic Purple Rain album, "Computer Blue" consists of multiple "movements" in a complex suite, and we hear an early version of some of the key parts in this performance by the Revolution.
Another popular choice on Prince's live setlists, "U Got The Look" from Sign O' The Times is what we hear next before COMPUTER BLUE.
We're up to 1987's "U Got The Look", with the band interjecting a little bit of the "Batman" theme, too! A tease of Prince's work to come on the 1989 Batman soundtrack.
The wonderful part about having Prince's collaborators in the chat: From Wendy Melvoin, speaking of the performance of Dirty Mind, "Dirty mind was/is the greatest moment of a revolution I had ever heard." From Revolution drummer Bobby Z? "He forgot lyrics". Two sides of Prince. :)
And in fact, it is still appearing in setlists from The Revolution shows. Stokley Williams from Mint Condition often fronts the vocals and delivers a driving version of the song.
Taking us back to 1980, it's "Uptown", a favorite from the Dirty Mind album and tour. Prince gives the guitar part here a full workout, going way past the simpler guitar work on the record.
The first single from Prince's 3rd album Dirty Mind, "Uptown" appeared in Prince's setlists for decades.
We're on to "Erotic City", the Revolution jamming on the then-new song without Sheila E., who duetted on the album version. This live arrangement adds a funky rhythm guitar that the studio version omitted.
From 1984, we transition to a perculating "Erotic City".
An incredibly rare and completely different arrangement of "Lady Cab Driver" features entirely different music, and was only ever played twice — the Detroit show from the 1999 tour is the one we're hearing here.
All the way back to 1982's 1999 for a throbbing standout cut from that album: "Lady Cab Driver". The tempo on this one is speeding!
Another rarity, Prince didn't add "Lady Cab Driver" to many setlists outside of the 80s unless it was a quick instrumental or used in soundchecks.
Wait, we're not done yet! Questlove takes us back to the Purple Rain tour as "Take Me With U" continues with the Revolution jamming on the song in an expanded vamp. A brief nod to "All The Critics Love U In New York" is included in Prince's guitar solo, in this version played at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Long Island, NY, in March of 1985.
The sheer joy from Prince fans all over the world when he'd break into this song at concerts was contagious.
One of the most touching memories of this songs involves Whitney Houston with her daughter Bobbi Kristina.
And now for a Purple Rain favorite: "Take Me With U"! This version dates to 2002, from the "One Night Alone" tour.
"Take Me With U" appeared in setlists from 1984 to 2016.
"Lisa" was recorded in 1980 and wasn't performed in public during concerts or shows, however, it has "circulated" as a fan favorite for years.
Now a never-released track that's relentlessly grooving: "Lisa"! Prince is clearly trying out sounds in the studio as he goes, but it never stops the unbelievable swing behind the song.
A groove breakdown moves us quickly into "Just As Long As We're Together", and we get another relentless bassline moving Prince and the not-yet-Revolution forward like a machine.
A couple songs ago we heard "Soft & Wet" - now another song from Prince's debut, "Just As Long As We're Together".
Prince released "I Feel For You" in 1979, but it became much more famous when Chaka Khan covered it in 1983. Prince didn't mind (becoming a close friend and collaborator of Ms. Khan's later on), however, as he was apt to do with other songs he'd written or produced that were made famous by others - he'd often perform it in his own live shows.
Then the chugging groove of "I Feel For You", years before it would become a standout hit for Chaka Khan propels us further into Prince's early catalog. Andre Cymone is thumping on the kickass bass fill that makes Prince's version stand out from all the later versions.
We go way back to a very early show with a 70s-style live intro featuring a soaring guitar part, some chirpy moog synths, and excerpts of hits to come — perfectly evoking the variety shows of the time. And now, it's Prince's very first single: "Soft and Wet"!
The segue here takes us to a 1987 rendition of Madhouse's "4", performed by the original live lineup of the side project band. We hear the song in its full flower, as rarely performed at the time.
The version we hear here was recorded at the House of Blues on the Sunset Strip, on April 21, 2002, a resonant date for Prince fans. As Prince would often do with "The Ballad of Dorothy Parker", he has the band segue into an excerpt of "Four" by Madhouse, Prince's jazzy side-band.
In live renditions, Prince merged "The Ballad of Dorothy Parker" with one of his gems from his jazz fusion collective Madhouse, "Four". He performed it this way on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno in 2001 as well.
Now, a beautiful 2002 version of "The Ballad of Dorothy Parker", this era updated the 1987 original with a jazzy band arrangement and some joyous crowd participation.
After a brief riff on "The Get Down", we hear the chords to Purple Rain over an uptempo Linn drum groove, and soloing on top — giving us a tantalizing glimpse of what an uptempo version of "Purple Rain" might have sounded like.
There are countless renditions of "Something In The Water (Does Not Computer". Listen to as many as you can. :)
From the absolutely intense finale of "Annie Christian", we move to Prince and Matt Fink from the revolution, trying out an early version of "Something In The Water", experimenting with the sounds of the Linn drum machine and an early Oberheim synthesizer.
"Annie Christian" was released in 1981 on the Controversy album. Prince only performed it live in the early 80s. Interestingly enough, HBO is airing a documentary tonight on the unsolved Atlanta murders Prince mentions in the song.
Now an incredibly rare live cut: "Annie Christian". It was only played live a handful of times on the tour for Controversy, the 1981 album it comes from.
"Sexuality" features a lot of topical references, which explains why Prince nods here to the Whopper, Filet o' Fish, and Big Mac. For most of his later life, Prince was vegetarian or vegan, and didn't frequent fast food places for at least his final few decades.
Prince performed "Sexuality" from his Controversy album in the 80s up to the aughts. But here we know this was an earlier performance. How? Because in 2006-2007, Prince changed the lyrics to deliver the song as "Spirituality".
After a lengthy, tranquil jam on "Mountains" we move on to "Sexuality", a song so quotable that half a dozen different lines became signature slogans for Prince fans.
"The Revolution Is Here" goes the chant over the vamp on "Mountains" — and it's true in the Instagram comments as well, where both Wendy & Susannah Melvoin (twin sisters and band members) have joined the chat.
Recorded in 1985 and released in 1986, "Mountains" was often added to a medley with MJ's "Shake Your Body (Down To The Ground)" in concert. Prince released a version of such a blend as an mp3 in 2009.
It's only "Mountains" — one of those never-stop-grooving Revolution-era tracks that seems to have been designed specifically to enable endless live vamping. We're clearly hearing an early performance of the song, but Prince's vocals soar just as they do on the Parade album that the track comes from.
During the few times Prince played Hot Thing in later tours, he typically did so as part of a "sampler set" — playing back his own studio creation from a sampler onstage, because it was a sound that no live band could reproduce. But the endlessly funky Eric Leeds sax solo worked great live, as we hear here.
Prince didn't perform "Hot Thing" too often in his later shows - it originally appeared on the Sign O' The Time album and punctuates a beautifully neon portion of the concert film starring dancer Cat Glover.
From the deep jazz of "Pop Life" in 2002 to the hard electronic dance of 1987's "Hot Thing"! Prince clearly loved showing off the groundbreaking drum machine sound of Hot Thing, which earned it a place on the charts even though it was only the b-side to an actual single — mostly from club play alone.
[SIDENOTE FROM MISS TLC: When the world gets back on its feet, go see Maceo Parker if you can! I've seen him multiple times, but last summer was wonderful because Greg Boyer was with him as well.]
Prince's One Night Alone band KILLS IT every single night - Renato Neto, John Blackwell, Eric Leeds, Maceo Parker, Rhonda Smith, Candy Dulfer, and Greg Boyer.
Oh we get a beautiful jazzy breakdown with sax by longtime Prince collaborator Eric Leeds, and a keyboard solo from Renato Neto.
For 3 decades Prince performed another crowd favorite - "Pop Life" - from the Parade Tour all the way through to the Welcome 2 America/Austrailia/Canada shows.
We pick the pace up with "Pop Life" (off of 1985's Around the World in a Day) from the 2002 One Night Alone tour. A super funky beat provided by drummer John Blackwell, and horns from a tight horn section featuring legendary sax player Maceo Parker!
This then leads into "With You", an early-career gem (and this was the Oakland, CA, Piano & a Mic show, apologies for the error) that was rarely played live.
[PERSONAL NOTE FROM MISS TLC: This Piano & A Microphone tour mashup with "Dirty Mind" works really well, but my personal favorite renditions are the "YOU GOT TA SLOW DOWN" versions in the 2010s.]
In the bridge to "Dirty Mind" on this piano version, Prince inserts a bit of "Linux & Lucy" — yes, the Charlie Brown theme. I have to believe it's because he'd been watching the then-recent Peanuts movie on the way to Australia, where these Piano & a Mic tour shows took place. Prince was fond of watching cartoons in flight.
An aching, beautiful piano intro takes us into "Little Red Corvette". From late in his career, this version speaks to the deep emotion that Prince would suffuse into the hit song, taking it from the pop realm into something deeper and more resonant. This take is from his final tour, Piano & A Microphone, and leads into "Dirty Mind", and he'd alternate the two songs, pulling each apart to show his audience a new side of both familiar tracks.
His "Little Red Corvette" arrangements varied from slow and sexy to fast and rocking. But each was impactful and worth a listen.
We cut to "Little Red Corvette", a song Prince BEAUTIFULLY performed on tour for 35 years.
What was supposed to have been a breakthrough gig in opening for The Rolling Stones ended up being the most crushing setback of Prince's early career. Amongst other lessons learned from that failure, Prince never opened up for another band again for the rest of his career. Just over a year later, he released the 1999 album and was well on his way to becoming the global superstar that he'd be for the rest of his life.
Quest explains that Prince would turn up the distortion on his guitar and drop from his falsetto to his lower register when trying to win over a rock crowd in that era — as he did at his famously disastrous effort in opening up for the Rolling Stones on their "Start Me Up" tour.
As Questlove alludes to, Prince's defining moment in breaking out in the
rock realm, including the moment where he won over rock establishment like
Mick Jagger, was his 1981 show on the Dirty Mind tour at The Ritz (later
Webster Hall) in NYC. You can watch that groundbreaking, barrier-smashing
Quest breaks into a story about Prince's early career, when he was first becoming popular in the Twin Cities, and how it wasn't until his second album that he had an actual hit. So it would take crossing boundaries and defying genres to be the global superstar he hoped to be. After claiming an R&B hit with "I Wanna Be Your Lover", his third album Dirty Mind had the specific goal of getting rock media and rock tastemakers to recognize Prince as the broad talent that he knew he could be.
An unusual coda to "When You Were Mine" has Prince playing some ethereal, calming guitar chords as he quietly sings about the heartbreak behind the song. A dramatic change in tone from the usual frenetic pace of the song.
"When You Were Mine" appeared on Prince's 3rd album Dirty Mind. Speaking of covers from female singers, this one was covered by Cyndi Lauper on her massively successful 1983 album, She's So Unusual.
"When You Were Mine" never failed to slay a crowd — from its debut in 1980 to Prince's final shows more than 35 years later.
Sidenote, La Toya Jackson released a cover of this song in 1984.
Now we're at the Mid-South Coliseum in Memphis, Tennessee on February 24, 1982 for a live version of "Private Joy", off of the Controversy album which had come out just a few months before.
YOU BELONG TO PRINCE.
"Private Joy" from Prince's Controversy album was RARELY played live. This is a gem.
We're into an instrumental jam from the same late-80s era, with saxophonist Eric Leeds providing a scorching solo over an incredible uptempo groove.
This is a classic Prince breakdown. Rhythm guitar (here played by Miko Weaver) gives a straight James Brown groove, even evoking a bit of the "Big Payback" bassline, and Prince dropping cues to stop and start the band with every bit of the precision of one of his heroes. At this point, Prince's tour manager was Alan Leeds — who'd had the same role for James Brown during his legendary tours of the 70s.
We hear a couple bars of a rap Prince would reuse in "Superfunkycalifragisexy", off of The Black Album, which would be pulled from release in 1988 but finally appear in 1994. The Band With No Name had countless riffs they could drop into a jam at the slightest cue from Prince, sometimes hitting 4, 8 or even 16 bars just with a subtle signal from Prince.
Plus, "The Band With No Name" accompanied Prince during the dawn of his famous aftershows. The Lovesexy tour gave us one of the most famous (and most beloved) of his aftershows: Small Club. Do yourself a favor and listen to that recording if you haven't already.
In the Instagram live, we're joined in the comments by Susannah Melvoin, Prince's frequent collaborator and girlfriend in the mid-80s — and certainly at least one of the inspirations behind "Strange Relationship".
Amongst fans, the band which accompanied Prince on the Sign of the Times and Lovesexy tours from 1987-1988 are often called "The Band With No Name", but they're one of his funkiest bands ever, as this jam on "Strange Relationship" demonstrates amply.
In the late 80s, Prince's live shows got much more ambitious in incorporating electronics, sequencers and samplers, presaging the full use of live samples in the 90s and onward. We hear that here in a jamming intro to "Strange Relationship" from an aftershow in 1988, which begins with an extended riff played on the then-new technology of digital samplers.
Prince didn't perform "Starfish and Coffee" too often on tour, as it wasn't a song he could crawl inside of for deeper jamming (as he was apt to do in most live renditions). Which is interesting, considering the song's lyrics do contain the word 'jam'. :)
This abbreviated version dates to the "One Night Alone" tour in 2002, where Prince did a version of a concert staple: a medley of his hits that he performed, usually solo, on a piano. Those performances presaged his final tour, "Piano & a Microphone", where Prince toured with just those two instruments.
Another beloved track from the Sign O' The Times album is up next: "Starfish and Coffee". This one inevitably became a singalong in concert.
Prince performed "Sign O' The Times" for 30 years, including an electrifying turn for the MTV VMAs in 1987.
Now we're onto a live version of "Sign O' The Times", a live staple that Prince loved to jam on. The live versions featured a fiery guitar solo that took the album version to another level.
In "Just Like U", Prince laments not being able to go outside on his own anymore. Fortunately, in the Twin Cities, Prince was left alone and treated like a regular neighbor, perhaps why he loved riding his bike around Chanhassen, MN, where Paisley Park is located.
Prince recorded "The Song of the Heart" in 2006 for Happy Feet and was awarded a Golden Globe for the track. He performed it live at his 3121 club in Vegas in this particular recording.
That "Song of the Heart" jam evolved into its own song, "Just Like U" — where Prince tells the story of being dissed as a teenager by girls who overlooked him for taller fellas. And, perhaps, how they might be regretting that move now.
Now we're all the way to forward to 2008, Prince and the NPG jamming on "The Song Of The Heart". Nothing is more Prince than tearing down the place with a funky jam on a song Prince made for Happy Feet, directed by the same guy who made Mad Max: Fury Road!
Story of the SNL 40th anniversary afterparty is here.
By the way, re: "Let's Go Crazy" It goes without saying that the song is from the Purple Rain album. Prince began performing the song live in 1983, and continued to do so all the way up until 2016. A forever crowd pleaser, footage circulated of him performing it at a private SNL after=party in 2015.
Next up, "Delirious" — a song that The Revolution could jam on forever. And in rehearsal, they had versions that went for more than half an hour! (One of those live jams evolved into the breakdown to Let's Go Crazy when that song was released a year later.)
You should know now that Prince is a COMEDIAN (in case you weren't aware). A lot of his ad libs in live shows and rehearsals are random and quite funny.
Now our real start — Prince introduces himself to the crowd and we hear a vamp on Delirious, leading into an atmospheric bed of snyths. And it's "Let's Go Crazy"!
Up now, a _very_ weird version of "Our House". Gotta admit, I'm not sure the genesis of this one. :)